Chapter 3

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For the past several hours, Jerod and his wife Lucinda had been locked in a room with their hands cuffed. They spent these hours alternating between shock, anger and grief. Most of all they worried about the future of the corporation they built together from the ground up, and the safety of their two sons, Owen and Anakin.

It wasn’t just that SKYE security failed them, that they were held at gunpoint, and that everything they had worked so hard to build was being destroyed. It was the fact that associates they trusted betrayed them. Some of the backstabbing Rodians still had enough of a conscience to avert their eyes when they saw Jerod and Lucinda, but others stared on with stony contempt.

The door to the room slid open. Jerod Skywalker studied the pock-marked Rodian that confidently stepped through the office doorway. Given the Rodian’s entourage and authoritative body language, Jerod knew that he was about to talk with a leader from this patchwork band of terrorists. Instinctively, Jerod stood on his feet, his tall frame shielding his wife.

“I demand to know who you are and why you’ve trapped us in here,” Jerod said.

“Of course!” the Rodian spread his hands with mocking magnanimity. “My name is Krul te Rosin, and you have been detained for your crimes against my homeworld.”

“Crimes? We've added more jobs to Rodia than any corporation in the past ten years.”

“You, cajala chupa, will have the opportunity to plead your case. In 31 hours time, we will holostream your trial to the galaxy. I will represent the people of Rodia, and we will be your judge, your jury, and if necessary, your executioner.”

Lucinda rose to her feet, and looked Krul squarely in the eye. “What gives you the right to decide our fate? Much less to speak for Rodia.”

Krul looked past them. “Do you know where my title ‘te Rosin’ comes from? It was a title that the Rodian clans gave to their wise men, their visionaries, in the days before humanity’s Sith Empire wiped out our religions and crippled our souls. My clan called me to serve as ‘te Rosin,’ and it is my duty to speak truth to power.”

Lucinda whispered in Jerod’s ear, “Let’s not play his game. He’s got nothing if we don’t speak.”

Jerod turned and held her gaze for a moment. She was right. Nodding, he answered Krul. “We refuse to participate in your sham trial. Do what you must.”

Krul shifted to one side, producing two holo communicators from his jacket. “But you will participate in the trial. You must. The lives of your two boys depend on it.”

He thumbed the holo communicators on, and holograms of Anakin and Owen Skywalker flickered into view. Both boys looked a little roughed up and sedated, but alive.

“How dare you! How dare you! My two boys! My two boys!” Lucinda launched herself at Krul.

With no time to think, Jerod landed a hammer blow on the closest guard. The force of the blow knocked the guard out cold, but as he went down the guard fired off a stun blast, catching Jerod in the legs. Jerod cursed and fell to the floor, temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.

He glanced up. The ferocity of Lucinda’s charge caught Krul and the other guard by surprise, and she managed to claw Krul in the face. Krul recovered quickly, however, and bludgeoned Lucinda in the jaw with the butt of his blaster. As infuriated as Lucinda was, she was no fighter, and she went down quickly. Krul placed a boot on the side of her face and ground it into the side of her head - sure to cause extreme discomfort, but not enough to wound her.

"Get off of her!" Jerod growled.

"Or what?" Krul asked, twisting his boot. Jerod gritted his teeth -- anything he said at this point would just makes thing worse.

Unable to move his legs, his sons captured, and his wife beaten and humiliated, Jerod felt helpless. Neutered. He thought of his father Navith warning him of the dangers of settling in the far rim. That rimmers were lazy slobs, always looking for handouts, bailouts, and wayouts. That desperate subgens did crazy things, and it would only end badly for him.

Navith may have been right about the risks, but he was wrong about the people. Krul and these fanatics were the outliers. Rodians had always impressed him, a testament of strength and endurance. SKYE's success was an outgrowth of their spirit, as much as his and Lucinda's. If only Krul could see that. He hoped the galaxy would.

Tears rolled down Lucinda’s cheek. “When I get out of here, I swear to you, there will not be a rock in this galaxy where you can hide.”

“We are done hiding, done with our ant lives, done with being fodder for your boots,” Krul hissed back. “Take this,” Krul said, as he tossed a holoprojector to the floor next to Jerod. “Over the next 31 hours, we will peel back the layers of corruption in this company, this planet, and this galaxy. Pay attention, because the famous Skywalkers will be the finale.”

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